Workout etiquette to earn you respect at the gym

You've decided to start the year off on the right foot by prioritizing your health and getting back into shape.  Even if you're heading back to the gym for the first time in a long time, it at least doesn't have to look like it.  Whether you’re a seasoned gym goer or a novice, follow these simple steps to gain the respect of your fellow gym rats. 

A low saturation shot of an empty gym.  The image is brightened by the sunrise peering through a window.

The new year has arrived which means it's time to make good on your resolutions.  You're not alone as many people choose to start the year off on the same note.  Here are some pro tips on returning to the gym after a hiatus. 

Wear Appropriate Attire

While in the confines of your own home, you get to walk around in whatever attire you please.  Even if you feel comfortable and unabashed, don't be fooled by the mirrors at your home.  While it's great a thing to not be body-conscious, you should at least be body-aware.  Showing up for your workouts in comfortable and well-fitting clothing designated for exercise, is an important part of establishing your new workout regimen. 

Work with a Personal Trainer

When familiarizing yourself with the gym environment, the last thing you want is as setback.  One of the best ways to ensure that you're using proper techniques and avoiding potential injuries is through working with a personal trainer.  Trainers are professionals, they help motivate you, and they can answer the questions you may have about your workout regimen.  In addition to crafting a personalized routine for your current abilities, they will also hold you accountable and help you reach your exercise goals.  

Be Self-Aware

Unless the gym is nearly empty, you should be mindful of the time you spend on a piece of equipment not not working out.  Don't commandeer the same piece of equipment for too long as someone could be waiting to use it. 

As you maneuver through the gym, watch out for others who are in the midst of their workouts.  This includes walking in front of an individual who's actively doing reps in front of the mirror.  Yes, walking in front of someone admiring themselves in the mirror is considered a faux pas.  

Most importantly, there's this thing called personal safety.  Be very careful when you make your way through the gym as to not trip over a piece of equipment or slip on a spilled water (or other fluid).  

Avoid Busy Times of the Day

One of the most frustrating experiences at the gym involves wasting precious minutes of your time waiting to use a piece of equipment, and thus extending the length of your workout.  Usually around 5:00 in the afternoon and lasting for a couple of hours, this is rush hour at the gym.  It's also a time when the place resembles more of a social club than an actual gym.  

During this time you're likely to spot several gymgoers who are heavily clad from head to toe in branding and color-coordinated gear.  Many are not really there to accomplish their fitness goals, but rather to be seen.  This, of course is not for everyone.  Even as you set out on your fitness journey, and regardless of the level of comfort you have with your body, going to the gym to waste time should not be part of your routine.  If you're serious about getting in shape, avoid this time slot. 

Respect the Equipment

One of the most telling signs of a person who's out of place at the gym is through their mishandling of the equipment.  Proper use of the equipment is a show of mutual respect to the people who pay their monthly membership to use the facility. 

When weight training, be sure to put the weights back in their proper location afterward.   It's annoying for gymgoers to find 35 pound dumbbells where the 60 pound belong.  

Don't drop the weights.  It's unnerving to hear the sound of metal clanking against the floor caused by someone pretending to be a power lifter.  The same goes for the weights on an exercise machine.  Workout reps should be controlled motions and conducted in silence for the most part.

Use the equipment the way it was intended to be used.  Refrain from stepping on benches, handles, and other areas not designed for use in that manner. 

Practice Good Hygiene - Wipe Down the Machines

No one wants to roll around in another person's sweat so wipe down each piece of equipment after using it.  And because not everyone abides by this principle, you may consider wiping the equipment prior to each use as well.  Your gym may feature dispensers with single-use sanitary wipes, or paper towels and antibacterial liquid to clean equipment. Take advantage of these supplies and be sure to tidy up once you're done.  Even if you didn’t break a sweat do it for the optics.


It's all common sense, really.  By respecting the facility, your fellow gymgoers, and the equipment, you'll earn yourself the same level of respect in return.  Getting back into the gym after a long period may seem intimidating but by following a few simple rules, you'll become a gym rat in no time.